Chinese company would be offered incentives to build plant


Incentives offered to a Chinese company to build a solar panel manufacturing plant in Southern Nevada would depend on the number of employees hired, their average wage and the company's capital investment in the project, a state development official said Tuesday.

ENN Mojave Energy Corp., a subsidiary of ENN Group, would be eligible for a reduction in property taxes, sales and use taxes and modified business taxes, said Ken Pierson, deputy director of the Nevada Commission on Economic Development.

He gave no estimate on the total amount of tax abatements, which would be determined by the state commission. It's all based on assessed values and taxes, Pierson said.

The Clark County Commission approved a plan Tuesday to start the appraisal process for the sale of 5,400 acres south of Laughlin, off the Needles Highway.

ENN would build a manufacturing plant on 400 acres and produce 3 million to 5 million solar panels a year. The rest of the land would be developed as a solar farm.

Commissioner Steve Sisolak said the manufacturing plant would create about 2,000 permanent jobs and 3,000 construction jobs over a four-year period. Total value of the project is estimated at $4 billion to $6 billion.

Nevada has been pushing for economic diversification in the midst of a deep recession that shows how frail and vulnerable the tourism industry can be when consumers cut back on discretionary spending. Renewable energy is seen as one of the state's emerging industries.

"The potential for solar power generation is great in the state of Nevada," Pierson said from Carson City. "There's been a couple companies that have opened up shop in Las Vegas."

Acciona Energy has the 64-megawatt Nevada Solar One power plant near Boulder City and a 14-megawatt photovoltaic center at Nellis Air Force Base. Also near Boulder City is the Eldorado Energy solar project, a 10-megawatt photovoltaic power-generation facility.

Seal Beach, Calif.-based Amonix came to North Las Vegas last year to manufacture solar panels, hiring 300 people and leasing space in the Golden Triangle industrial park. A spokeswoman for Amonix said 95 percent of its employees are Nevadans.

Pierson said not everyone will be hired from the local workforce.

"Obviously, they're looking at qualified people for what jobs are out there," he said. "A lot of these companies bring in support from out of the area to get Nevada up and running. That's not uncommon. Maybe (they bring) someone who can run the plant.''

But don't expect to see massive numbers of workers coming in from other places, he said.

To be eligible for sales and use tax abatement, which reduces the tax to 2 percent, the company's average hourly wage must equal or exceed the county average hourly wage or statewide average hourly wage, whichever is less. The statewide average is $19.93 an hour.

In Clark County, the company must also have at least 75 full-time permanent jobs by the fourth quarter of operation and make a capital investment of at least $1 million, Pierson said.

Contact reporter Hubble Smith at hsmith@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0491.

 

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